By Peter Rigby - www.thestarfish.com.au
Howard Park Wines has been in the vanguard of top WA wineries for over a quarter of a century.
While the winery has won numerous accolades and awards during this time, excellence in winemaking is not judged in sporadic triumphs, trophies and medals alone. The “Gong Show” isn’t what interests serious wine aficionados.
Rather, it is the process of maintaining, and enhancing, consistent quality and style across many vintages – the knowledge that no matter which vintage you select, the wine will be of a high standard.
This is a winery that has fulfilled this reliability equation better than most.
Howard Park is just one point in the triangulation of labels that makes up Burch Family Wines, sitting comfortably with its well-known siblings MadFish and Marchand & Burch.
The trio produces a diverse and high-quality range of styles and is WA’s largest boutique family-owned operation; crafting a range of fine Australian wines from the state’s best grape growing regions (and France where Marchand & Burch is concerned).
Since Howard Park’s inception in 1986, the philosophy has been to craft outstanding boutique wines of subtlety, character, balance and elegance with an uncompromising commitment to quality.
Drawing on its vineyards in prime Great Southern and Margaret River locations, it produces an enviable range of Bordeaux and Burgundian styles spanning the regional climes and terroir of WA’s southwest corner.
Add to this the deft hand of respected winemaker Janice McDonald, and the future is looking rosy for the iconic WA producer, even in tough times for Australian wine producers.
Janice started as Senior Winemaker for Howard Park Wines in January 2011 overseeing both the Margaret River and Denmark wineries and teams.
She has worked in the industry for over 25 years in brewing and winemaking, most recently at Deep Woods and Stella Bella, where she was awarded the accolade of “Winemaker of the Year” in the Big Red Wine Book 2010 – 2011 by Campbell Mattinson and Gary Walsh.
“I am both excited and honoured to have joined Howard Park Wines,” she says.
“I regard Howard Park as one of Australia’s most successful premium wine companies and look forward to making a significant contribution to what is already a passionate, dynamic and quality focused winery.”
In 2009, Howard Park was asked to join Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW), a collective of twelve multi-generational family-owned wine producers. Together they represent seventeen wine-growing regions across Australia and forty-eight generations of winemakers.
Here The Starfish reviews a couple of the best wines from the Howard Park range: the 2009 Chardonnay and the 2010 Leston Cabernet Sauvignon.
Howard Park 2009 Chardonnay
There are a number of key characteristics that define the Howard Park Chardonnay year in, year out. This is a fresh, vibrant fruit driven wine with an elegant, sophisticated, tight palate structure. It’s these characteristics that define our Chardonnay as a modern Australian barrel fermented style of Chardonnay. The Howard Park 2009 Chardonnay is pale straw in colour with a bright green hue on the rim of the glass. The wine’s aroma opens up before you in the glass. Mineral and citrus notes lead to creamy cashews and subtly integrated oak. Fermentation with indigenous yeast in French oak barriques and lees aging provides a creamy texture with flavours of almond meal. This texture complements the thrilling nectarine and rockmelon fruit and the crisp mineral-citrus structure. All of these characteristics provide a contemporary, sophisticated Chardonnay.
Howard Park 2010 Leston Cabernet Sauvignon
The Howard Park single vineyard regional concept is designed to highlight the distinctive regional and site characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz from Howard Park’s best vineyard sites in the two premier West Australian grape growing regions of Margaret River and the Great Southern. The 2010 Leston Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark dense cherry colour in the best Margaret River tradition. The wine is immediately enticing, offering up warm fruit notes of plum, black currant and mulberry with a perfumed lift of sweet mint, savoury herbs, mocha and spice. On the palate there’s opulent fruit weight and supple fruit tannins subtly cradled by fine oak flavour and tannins. Mineral and chalky structure enhances the palate texture and length. A wonderful wine delivering classic Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon flavour and presence.